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By February 18, 2016 8 Comments Read More →

Little Red Riding Hood: A Sociopath’s Fairy Tale

LittleRedRidingHood

If sociopaths are so common and cause so much damage, why aren’t more of us forewarned?

Being victimized by a sociopath doesn’t just happen to a few, rare foolhardy people, it happens to lots of people—lots of everyday people who play by the rules.  I know that blaming victims of sociopaths for the harm inflicted on them or simply ignoring them is a defense mechanism for others who want to feel that they could never be victimized. Those abused must have made a stupid decision, chosen to be blind, unconsciously wanted it to happen, played a significant role in their unraveling, and so it goes.  Of course, in most cases this isn’t true, but it’s comforting and self-protecting for nonvictims to think so.

Still, sociopaths cause so much damage why don’t most parents know this and tell their teenage and young adult children to be very, very careful about whom is allowed into their life? We inoculate our children against harmful diseases. Why so little preemptive action when it comes to the emotional, physical, psychological and financial harm caused by sociopaths?

I’m not sure it was always like this. If you look back at fairy tales, the warnings are pretty clear. Most of the original fairy tales have pretty dangerous sociopathic characters.

Little Red Riding Hood is a great example. My version of Little Red Riding Hood comes from The Blue Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang.  It is translated from Charles Perrault’s version of more than three hundred years ago.

Story: Little Red Riding Hood is beautiful and has a loving, kind mother and grandmother.

Reality: Many victims of sociopaths are kind, loving people. Think about it, someone mean and narcissistic probably wouldn’t attract a sociopath.  Such people simply wouldn’t provide the sociopath with the initial adulation required and would exit post haste when the sociopath switched from love-bombing to devaluing.

Story: On route to bringing her ill grandmother custard and butter, Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf in the woods. She doesn’t realize it’s dangerous to “stay and hear a wolf talk.” Red Riding Hood tells the wolf about her planned visit to her grandmother in the first house in the village.  

Reality: Although Little Red Riding Hood probably turns heads due to her beauty (“prettiest creature ever seen”) and her scarlet cap, is this why the wolf notices her?  There is no evidence that this is true. As in life, there is a large element of serendipity—of a chance meeting.  Their paths simply cross in the forest. But once their paths cross, the wolf takes take full advantage of the situation; so would a sociopath.

In addition, relationships with sociopaths can evolve very quickly.  Sociopaths don’t appear dangerous. Their charm and other qualities get victims to trust the sociopath. Also, some have reported that sociopaths have a hypnotic quality to their speech. (This was true of my ex-husband.  He had a soft velvety voice that he could turn on and off at will.)  As sociopaths read people well and are trusted quickly, targets often divulge information about themselves that is later used to hurt and exploit.

Story: The wolf befriends Little Red Riding Hood, and engages her in a game of who will get to grandma’s fastest.  Of course, the wolf picks the shorter of the two routes.

Reality: Sociopaths love both the game (manipulation) and the win (getting something they want at your expense, including your downfall). They can pretend to be your friend, colleague, lover …

Story:  The wolf gains entrance to grandmother’s house by pretending to be Little Red Riding Hood. Without hesitation, the wolf eats granny. (After all…it’s a wolf and it hasn’t eaten in three days.)

Reality: Metaphorically, sociopaths erode others and reduce them to nothing.  Clearly, there is “nothing” left of grandma. Nonmetaphorically, harming or killing someone to get what they want would not bother a sociopath as long as they were confident they could get away with it.

Story:  The wolf manipulated Little Red Riding Hood to get information about grandma, then manipulated grandma to gain entrance to the house. The wolf’s manipulation continues as he pretends to be grandma to manipulate Little Red Riding Hood again.

Reality: Sociopaths are great actors. They will take on whatever role is required to get what they want. Whom they appear to be can change in an instant.  After all, it’s all an act to get something they want at your expense.

Story:  When Little Red Riding Hood knocks at her grandmother’s door and the wolf answers, Little Red Riding Hood is “at first afraid.” But she decides that grandmother’s voice must be hoarse due to her cold.

Reality: Those involved in a relationship with a sociopath report that they had a sense that something was wrong. Yet, not knowing what was wrong, they ignored the warning signs (e.g., fear, discomfort, unease) and their intuition.

Story: Rationalizing away her fear, Little Red Riding Hood enters the house.  When “grandma” directs Little Red Riding Hood to undress and get in bed with “grandma,” Little Red Riding Hood obeys.

Reality: Even though the house is on the village’s edge, the wolf effectively isolates Little Red Riding Hood, by getting her to enter the house.  Isolating victims is a tactic of sociopaths and other abusive people. Since the grandmother’s house is at the edge of the village, it is also possible that if Little Red Riding Hood could get outside and call for help, that the wolf would not risk an attack and Little Red Riding Hood would survive the encounter. Yet, once Little Red Riding Hood gets in bed with the wolf, that even if she realizes then that “granny” is a wolf, Little Red Riding Hood’s fate is now sealed—she’s just in too deep. (I’ll let you ponder the likely implied sexual connotations and the broader metaphoric meaning of “being in bed” with someone.”),

Story: The famous exchange transpires: 

Little Red Riding Hood: …what great arms you have!

Wolf: … the better to hug thee, my dear.

Little Red Riding Hood: …what great legs you have!

Wolf: … to run the better my child.

Little Red Riding Hood: …what great ears you have!

Wolf: …to hear thee better, my child.

Little Red Riding Hood: …what great eyes you have!

Wolf: …to see you better, my child.

Little Red Riding Hood:  Grandma, what great teeth you have got!

Wolf: That is to eat thee up!

And with those words the wolf devours Little Red Riding Hood.

 -THE END-

Reality: In retrospect, many victims of sociopaths report there were red flags and concerning behavior on the part of the sociopath. Yet, sociopaths are brilliant at rationalizing away and distracting us from the natural conclusions of our own observations (e.g., what great arms you have). As we don’t know sociopaths are common, those targeted by sociopaths often don’t listen to their intuition and don’t exit in the early stages when it is easier and safer to get out.

As the kind, sweat, loving behavior is all an act to draw you in and make you vulnerable, a sociopath can switch from loving (…”my dear,”….”my child”) to brutally dangerous (“…to eat you up”) in an instant.

Like Little Red Riding Hood, in the end, victims of sociopaths felt destroyed or damaged by the sociopath in some way. Some are brutalized financially, others physically, others emotionally and psychologically. It is often described as identity eroding or soul destroying. Some sociopaths even kill ex-partners and spouses simply to avoid a messy and expensive separation or divorce.  To a sociopath, a person is an object to be manipulated for their purposes—nothing more.

Perhaps original fairy tales were designed to be disturbing and unsettling.  There are dangerous people in the world.  They may even be disguised as friends and family. Yet, there often are subtle warning signs. Your best defense against such people is to know that they exist and are brilliant, patient actors.  Listen to your intuition! Remember, Little Red Riding Hood pushed aside her fear when she heard her grandmother’s altered voice.  Her fear was a gift. She should have embraced it, listened to it and never opened the door.

(What I learned about sociopaths from my corrosive marriage and toxic divorce is chronicled in my book, Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned, available via Amazon.com.)

Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.


Posted in: O.N. Ward

8 Comments on "Little Red Riding Hood: A Sociopath’s Fairy Tale"

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  1. This post is timely for today. I have been divorced from my SP for almost a year and today I’m am struggling at the fact he doesn’t pay the child support and he knows no one is going to do anything about it. He completely destroyed me financially to the utmost. I am still having a hard time on a daily basis accepting where I am and trying to push forward knowing he will never follow any rules set forth for him and won’t do anything unless he is physically forced to help my daughter and I.



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    • Peace in Chaos – I am so sorry that you are struggling. Please stay strong.



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    • O.N.Ward says:

      Peace in Chaos-
      It’s horrible when a SP refuses to support his/her own children. I’m so sorry for all that you are going through.

      I’m guessing you’ve looked into this, but many states have departments dedicated to collecting owed child support. Is this an option? At least in the state in which I was divorced, I had to do this. There was no cost to me, and they took their job of enforcing child support pretty seriously. Of course, depending on his source of income this can be challenging, but may be worth a try.

      Wishing you all the best.



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    • jm_short says:

      Peace in Chaos-

      I lived through my son’s father failing to support him for 17 years. People will offer you advise without understanding how difficult, costly and emotionally draining, for both you and your child, keeping his toes to the fire can be.

      I was coerced into accepting his non-payment. I was afraid he would kidnap my son, just like he’d done to his other two children by a prior marriage. He was an Argentine citizen and it would have been easy for him to disappear.

      If I had it to do over again, I’d have hired a private detective and forensic accountant to dig into his lifestyle and ability to pay. He was self employed and lived off the grid on the largess of an extraordinarily wealthy women who enabled him.

      My son never recognized or appreciated the efforts I made to keep him safe from abduction and shoulder the heavy lifting of raising him. I urge you to do everything possible to insure that your ex pays his fair share. Report every non-payment to the court, your attorney, his family, his friends and his employer. Garnish his wages. Do whatever it takes to make him responsible for his child.

      Giving birth should not result in financial ruin for you!



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  2. laclsa03 says:

    Hi!

    This is an awesome post! I’ve always thought those old fairy tales could be a little creepy… maybe that was for a purpose!

    I’ve been checking out this website for a few months now, but haven’t posted anything yet. I was a victim of psychopathic/narcissistic abuse for 3 years- thankfully, didn’t marry the guy & no kids! But, of course, I am still recovering from the abuse & probably will be for some time. Websites like this and Kim Saeed’s letmereach.com have been so incredibly helpful for me! Thank you!



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  3. jm_short says:

    “Reality: Many victims of sociopaths are kind, loving people. Think about it, someone mean and narcissistic probably wouldn’t attract a sociopath. Such people simply wouldn’t provide the sociopath with the initial adulation required and would exit post haste when the sociopath switched from love-bombing to devaluing.”

    Sociopaths can, in fact, be fooled by other sociopaths. All sociopaths are “actors.” They put on a false persona to hide their underlying callous mentality. If a sociopath thinks they can gain by playing an act, they will do so, and even suck-in a sociopath who targets them. My advocacy has taught me that not all victims are nice people. But certainly, nice people are far more easy for them to fool and are far more devastated when they learn the truth.



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  4. becomingstrong says:

    Love this post. However, I do believe that these predators can “mark” their targets and not all of it is random as it would appear in the beginning. My spath husband and I “met” in a common area of our apartment complex. I believed then, this was the first time we had ever seen or spoken to each other. He never said he had seen me before. Infact, he said he had never seen me before that day and I believed him. During the marriage when asked by others how we met, we both relayed the same story, “we met at our apartment’s common area”. Now looking back, having time for reflection, now knowing what I about him there isn’t anything random about any of his encounters or decisions. I now don’t believe that was our first encounter. I know this was the first time I ever remember seeing him; however, I think he had seen/studied me over a long period of time prior to that encounter. Prior to my known first encounter with him, I would sit outside and watch my friend’s young daughter ride her bike. I would run behind the bike, so she wouldn’t fall, around the pathway of the apartment complex. I would watch my friend’s daughter on many occasions and would run around and around that complex. Many times I would sit on the bench right in front of what was unbeknownst to me then, his apartment unit (interestingly the common area where we “met” was right in front of his apartment). I believe he studied me, watched me, and the day in which I falsely believed was our first random encounter, he entered the common area minutes after I did. He was waiting and saw an opportunity. We were married four months later.



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  5. gypsies says:

    If you’d like to examine age old discriptions of psychopathy, check out Reynard the Fox. It was written in 1170; spaths aren’t a new phenomenon. In fact there are numerous “trickster” stories throughout the world, usually foxes, coyotes and sometimes wolves.
    Reynard’s story will show you just how smoothly they can spin a tale while commiting heinous crimes against everyone without a hint of conscience.
    On the other hand our mythology holds plenty of healing magic for those caught by the fox too. Check out Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. This book makes you feel strong and free, even after meeting up with a spath.
    You are right though, we have plenty of information warning us about this specific brain disorder. Yet we seem to believe we won’t be the one caught in the snare.
    In my personal experience, I have met numerous women that claim to have been married to a spath, a polygamist, or a brutal batterer and I still see women repeatedly trying to love these men beyond it, not recognizing that the spaths have no emotion to bond with, and believing that the women can impact the disability with positive forces. I can’t help but feel that for all our attempts to identify these people, that we haven’t come up with a truly accurate picture of them in a way that clarifies the need to flee.



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